Glen Rose

Fossil Rim Giraffe Named for Organ Donor

Fossil Rim hopes donors will be generous during Tuesday's North Texas Giving Day Now to support the area's nonprofits in this challenging time

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Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose has been closed since March 20 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but a mom from Burleson was treated to a special visit.

Tanner Trujillo and other family members were at the park on Monday to see the giraffe calf named in honor of her daughter Raven.

"Raven would love this so much," said grandmother Dana Holcomb in a video shared with NBC 5.

Raven was a spunky, compassionate 6-year-old her mom describes as selfless, a child who'd give a classmate a pencil or a coat without a second thought.

"All she needed was what she needed to get by, and the rest was someone else's which led me to buy a lot coats," smiled Trujillo.

It's a memory Trujillo holds onto now that she can no longer put her arms around her little girl.

Raven died of a traumatic brain injury in January 2020. Doctors at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth could not save her. And in videos posted to YouTube, a grieving mother updated family and friends in what she described as the coolest story ever.

"They're gonna tell us officially what we already know. And positively, Raven will be able to save a lot of children with her organs," Trujillo said in one video.

In another, Trujillo describes the bond she and her daughter shared until the very end.

"Down to her very most physical being, her cell still reacts to me. Her body reacts to me. On the most basic level. my voice affected my daughter's cells," Trujillo said through tears.

On the morning Raven's organs were removed, Trujillo posted another update.

"She was as good as gold to donate her body. From the bottom of my heart, the bottom of my mother's heart, I thank you so much," she recorded.

More than 16,000 thousand watched Trujillo's heartbreaking updates.

And now months later, the story lives on through a female giraffe calf at Fossil Rim now named Raven.

"There were over 400 names submitted, and Raven was a recurring name," said executive director Kelley Snodgrass as he described a naming contest for male and female giraffe calves born a few weeks after Raven passed.

The center wanted to understand why the name Raven kept being submitted, why thousands were casting votes for it and discovered the story of the little girl gone yet still alive in seven others.

"She suffered a traumatic brain injury, yet through that tragedy, the family did a remarkable thing through organ donation. Seven other people were touched by the life of Raven, just an incredibly humble and inspiring story from that tragedy," Snodgrass told NBC 5.

And on Monday, Raven's mom, grandmother and other family members were at Fossil Rim to meet the calf that now shares Raven's name.

"Oh, my gosh, That is so cute," smiled Trujillo as a giraffe snuggled her nose into her palm. It was a remarkable moment. The giraffe, Fossil Rim says, was Nettie, the mother of the calf now named Raven.

"It means so much to me, my family and my daughter," said Trujillo's mom, Dana Holcomb.

Snodgrass says Raven and Forest, the male calf are "doing great, running around on about 300 acres with the rest of the giraffe herd."

Yet for now Raven and Forest are out of public view. The center closed to visitors back on March 20 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It's a big hit to the nonprofit's monthly tab of $175,000.

Fossil Rim hopes donors will be generous during Tuesday's North Texas Giving Day Now to support the area's nonprofits in this challenging time.

The wildlife center is working towards reopening next week with a new online reservation and ticketing system to reduce contact between people.

"The plan would be for guests to buy tickets online, be able to stay in their car, and we will scan their ticket for entry. A lot to figure out since we haven't ever done online ticket sales before," Snodgrass explained.

"We're primarily looking at folks coming out and doing the drive-thru and enjoying being out in the country and seeing some of these remarkable creatures that walk the face of the Earth," Snodgrass said.

And among those creatures will be Raven, the giraffe with a remarkable story of how she got her name.

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